Probabilistic seismic demand models and fragility estimates for reinforced concrete highway bridges with one single-column bent

Qindan Huang, Paolo Gardoni, Stefan Hurlebaus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In performance-based seismic design, general and practical seismic demand models of structures are essential. This paper proposes a general methodology to construct probabilistic demand models for reinforced concrete (RC) highway bridges with one single-column bent. The developed probabilistic models consider the dependence of the seismic demands on the ground motion characteristics and the prevailing uncertainties, including uncertainties in the structural properties, statistical uncertainties, and model errors. Probabilistic models for seismic deformation, shear, and bivariate deformation-shear demands are developed by adding correction terms to deterministic demand models currently used in practice. The correction terms remove the bias and improve the accuracy of the deterministic models, complement the deterministic models with ground motion intensity measures that are critical for determining the seismic demands, and preserve the simplicity of the deterministic models to facilitate the practical application of the proposed probabilistic models. The demand data used for developing the models are obtained from 60 representative configurations of finite-element models of RC bridges with one single-column bent subjected to a large number of representative seismic ground motions. The ground motions include near-field and ordinary records, and the soil amplification due to different soil characteristics is considered. A Bayesian updating approach and an all possible subset model selection are used to assess the unknown model parameters and select the correction terms. Combined with previously developed capacity models, the proposed seismic demand models can be used to estimate the seismic fragility of RC bridges with one single-column bent. Seismic fragility is defined as the conditional probability that the demand quantity of interest attains or exceeds a specified capacity level for given values of the earthquake intensity measures. As an application, the univariate deformation and shear fragilities and the bivariate deformation-shear fragility are assessed for an example bridge.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1340-1353
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Engineering Mechanics
Issue number11
StatePublished - Mar 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Bayesian analysis
  • Bridges, concrete
  • Bridges, highway
  • Deformation
  • Experimentation
  • Probability
  • Reinforced concrete
  • Seismic analysis
  • Shear failures

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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